Best Time to Visit Napa Valley

Did you know Napa Valley has castles...continue reading!

Castello Dia Amorosa Winery in the Fall

Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves!  Napa Valley, a world famous wine area, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in California. More than five million visitors come each year, often over-crowding the roadways on summer weekends. If you are wondering when to visit the Napa Valley, keep in mind that the cooler months - what they call the "Cabernet Season” - are some of the best times to visit. Peak times are during the summer months and the harvest “crush” in September and October. Napa Valley is home to more than three hundred wineries, and with wine as a focus, great dining naturally emerged to compliment it during all seasons. The art of living well is a daily ritual practiced in the Napa Valley and each season holds its own special spectacular scenery while the wineries and culinary experiences provide the perfect ambience for a much needed vacation or getaway.

When to visit Napa Valley?

There are few places in California where color changes are as dramatic as Napa Valley. This makes autumn the best time to visit if you want to get your fix of fall foliage before winter sets in. The vines and trees show off a shifting of colors in this most beautiful time in wine country, creating great photo opportunities. Deciding when to go to Napa is a matter of personal preferences, since weather and crowds vary by season. The best time to visit for quiet relaxation is in the winter; excitement in the spring; fun and hoopla in the summer.

Artesa Winery & Gordon Huether Art

Whenever you come, you will feel the welcome and hospitality of Napa Valley, the premier wine, food, arts and wellness capital of California. Though only thirty-five miles at its widest, the Napa Valley has a well-earned representation as the home of America’s fine wine industry. You come here for its natural beauty, phenomenal culinary scene, world-class lodging, thriving arts, spas and most of all its legendary hospitality. You come here thinking of the wine, but there is much more than just the wine tasting. You can learn how to cook like a chef when you visit the Culinary Institute of America, discover the wild on a safari tour, visit galleries and museums and see the regions rich history and artistry or take a ride on the iconic wine train. The wine train allows you to enjoy gourmet dining, wine tasting and exclusive wine tours all aboard beautifully restored antique rail cars. 

Where to go in Napa Valley

Our recent trip to the town of Napa included a two-night stay at Napa River Inn, a downtown upscale boutique hotel in the century-old historic mill overlooking the Napa River. It is literally walking distance to some of the city’s best restaurants and shops. The city’s vibrant downtown offers opportunities to stroll, nosh and shop from the West End to the iconic River Walk. Hit by an earth-quake a little over a year ago, the downtown area has come back full scale. 

1. Oakville and Rutherford

Midway between Napa and Calistoga are the towns of Oakville and Rutherford, home to famous wineries of Robert Mondavi and Silver Oak. Among Napa Valley’s famed Cabernets, those hailing from this area have an especially passionate following, and count me among them. St. Helena, known as Napa Valley’s Main Street, is home to the Culinary Institute of America. The institute is housed in the grand stone building that was once the Christian Brothers Winery. It offers superb culinary classes, a tasting bar and an acclaimed onsite eatery.

2. Yountville 

On one occasion I had the opportunity to sit down for lunch with Chef Cindy Pawlcyn at Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen and hear about her love for this special place she calls home. Yountville, the culinary capital of Napa Valley, is upscale with a small town charm. World-class spas, hotels and more than a few notable restaurants and wineries are found here. Located within walking distance of the town’s well-appointed hotels, small luxury inns, premium wineries, activities and shopping, one can indulge oneself with a romantic, quiet dinner for two, casual patio dining, a leisurely lunch overlooking a vineyard or a cappuccino and croissant curbside. Just one taste of life here and you will keep coming back. Our stay here was most enjoyable as we were in one of the North Block Hotel's individually decorated guest rooms with a balcony overlooking a courtyard. The staff was warm and friendly and they invited us back. Walk across the courtyard you are at Redd Wood, the newest outlet for local chef Richard Reddington, where we enjoyed a delicious and most relaxing meal in what I call casual elegance. 

Chateau Montelena Winery Calistoga

3. Calistoga 

Calistoga has the charm of a small town and the sophistication of a European spa. Famous for its natural hot springs, castle style resorts and healing mud baths it has become Napa Valley’s number one spa town. My visit here allowed for a most relaxing stay at Calistoga Spa Hot Springs, where we soaked hours in the four outdoor mineral water pools. We found Napa Valley to be very easy to get around from north to south and east to west with the connecting roads and highways that were planned with great creativity by nature it seemed.

We will definitely visit again at Harvest Time to experience the excitement and joy of the region.